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 World-Premiere Goodman Commission awarded Prince Prize for original work

 

Chicago, IL – Prince Prize and Guggenheim Fellowship-winning playwright Thomas Bradshaw makes his Chicago debut with Mary, starting February 5, at Goodman Theatre.

Based on a true story, Mary uses social satire to examine the pervasive nature of racism and homophobia in contemporary American society. Hilton Als of the New Yorker has hailed Bradshaw’s plays as “rich and groundbreaking,” praising his ability to create a body of work which “defies categorization” among writers of his generation; the Village Voice named him “Best Provocative Playwright.” May Adrales—who also directed Bradshaw’s 2009 play, The Bereaved—stages this world-premiere Goodman commission, which was first seen in the Goodman’s 2009 New Stages Series. Performances are February 5 – March 6, 2011 in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre; tickets are $10 – $42. Mary contains mature subject matter. Albert Goodman/The Edith-Marie Appleton Foundation is the Major

Production Sponsor for Mary. Goodman Theatre and Thomas Bradshaw are the proud recipients of Prince Charitable Trusts’ Prince Prize for Commissioning Original Work for Mary. Prince Charitable Trusts is the leading contributor to the Goodman’s New Works Endowment Fund and Principal Support of Artistic Development and Diversity Initiatives is provided by The Joyce Foundation.

“Thomas is one of the brightest lights of a new generation of young writers who focus on the ideas and beliefs that factionalize us,” said Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls, who first experienced Bradshaw’s work in 2007 with a double-bill of Strom Thurmond Is Not a Racist and Cleansed. “Mary is timely and theatrical. I hope that it will spark a lively discourse on the changing nature of bigotry and oppression in our contemporary world.”

Set in 1983 at the height of what Time magazine dubbed “AIDS hysteria,” Mary takes place at the Jennings’ Southern Maryland family home, where not much has changed since the 1800s—including the slave quarters. When college student David invites his boyfriend, Jonathan, home to meet his parents and their domestic servants, the events set in motion are alternately hilarious, disturbingly farcical and politically incendiary. “In a Bradshaw play, no one in the audience gets to sit back in safety and crow over the sins of others. In matters of vanity and perversity, our lust for psychic and social power—in addition to our secret angers: class, race and gender—are equal opportunity employers.” (Margo Jefferson, BOMB magazine).

 “You watch a play like Mary, and our modern, politically-correct sensibility leads us to think, ‘these must be backwards people, this is certainly reprehensible behavior, these people have to be evil.’ But they’re not. Nothing in my plays is pure black or white. All of my characters exist along the spectrum of gray, just as all people do—no one is absolutely good or absolutely evil,” said Playwright Thomas Bradshaw. “This play is based on a true story; there is a unity of what the characters are thinking, feeling and doing. I’m interested in presenting real human beings and all of their complexity.”

Adds Director May Adrales, “Mary is a challenging, explosive night in the theater that is about the world we live in now. Thomas explores the tragic and profane without apology, unafraid to go where people are uncomfortable in order to push to the other side of understanding.”

As previously announced, the cast of Mary includes Myra Lucretia Taylor in the title role as the Jennings family’s domestic servant; Barbara Garrick as Dolores Jennings, Mary’s employer; Scott Jaeck as Dolores’ husband, James Jennings; Alex Weisman as David, Dolores and James’ son; Eddie Bennet as David’s boyfriend, Jonathan; Cedric Young as Mary’s husband, Elroy; and Steve Pickering as a priest. Adrales has tapped an award-winning design team for the production—Kevin Depinet (Set), Ana Kuzmanic (Costumes), Keith Parham (Lighting) and Andrew Hansen (Sound).

Playwright Thomas Bradshaw’s play The Bereaved premiered in New York in September 2009 at The Wild Project, and was produced at The State Theater of Bielefeld in Germany earlier this year. The Bereaved was named one of the Best Plays of 2009 in Time Out New York. In 2008, two of Bradshaw’s plays premiered: Southern Promises, at Performance Space 122 in September, and Dawn, at The Flea Theatre in November, and both were listed among the Best Performances of Stage and Screen for 2008 in the New Yorker. His play Purity was produced at Performance Space 122 in January 2007, and Strom Thurmond Is Not A Racist and Cleansed were produced on a double-bill at Brick Theatre in February of that year. Strom Thurmond Is Not A Racist was also produced in Los Angeles in the spring of 2008. Bradshaw recently completed a residency at the Soho Theatre in London, where he wrote his newest play, The Ashes, which was presented as a workshop at the end of February 2010. He is the recipient of a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship. His plays Prophet, Strom Thurmond Is Not A Racist, Cleansed, Purity, Dawn and Southern Promises are all published by Samuel French, Inc. A German translation of Dawn was presented at Theater Bielefeld in Germany in October 2008 and published by Theater Der Zeit in that same month. Purity was published by Theaterheute in Germany in April 2008. Bradshaw received his MFA from Mac Wellman’s playwriting program at Brooklyn College and is an assistant professor at Medgar Evers College. He has been featured as one of Time Out New York’s 10 playwrights to watch, as one of Paper Magazine’s Beautiful People, and Best Provocative Playwright by the Village Voice. He has received fellowships fromThe Lark Play Development Center, Soho Repertory Theater and New York Theater Workshop. He recently completed an adaptation of the Book of Job, which was workshopped at the Playwright’s Foundation at Stanford University and Berkeley Repertory Theatre in spring 2009. Job was presented as a Staged Reading at The Wilma in January 2010.Tickets to Mary ($10 – $42) are currently on sale at GoodmanTheatre.org.

Tickets and subscriptions can also be purchased at the box office (170 North Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800. Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone. 10Tix are $10 rear mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online on the day of performance; 10Tix are not available by telephone; a valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets; limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted GroupTickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820. Purchase Goodman Gift Certificates in any amount at GoodmanTheatre.org. The flexibility of Goodman Gift Certificates allows recipients to choose the production, date and time of their performance. Artists, dates and ticket prices are subject to change.

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